CITROEN has shown off a concept version of its Ami mini electric car designed specifically for disabled motorists.
The Ami for All concept has been developed in conjunction with PIMAS, an expert in the conversion of vehicles for persons with reduced mobility.
The project was shown at the Autonomic trade fair in Paris.
The prototype is designed to be driven by disabled people who no longer have the use of at least one lower limb, particularly those in wheelchairs.
It incorporates technical developments such as an increased door opening angle, equipment for the transfer from wheelchair to seat such as a board and straps, mechanical and manual control for accelerating and braking, a knob on the steering wheel to make driving easier, and a way of carrying the wheelchair inside or outside the cabin.
Citroen says the Ami for All offers an easy way to lead an active life and integrate socially without depending on a third party to accompany them or using public transport with its unpredictable timetables and access.
"Ami for All is perfectly in line with the Ami philosophy: to offer a practical response to access to mobility for all," said Thierry Koskas, Citroen chief executive. "Ami has reintroduced ease of movement to micro-journeys and given more independence. We are delighted to present this technical solution to support the mobility of disabled people and we are working to make this project achievable in the short term."
The Ami's compact size - it measures 2.41 metres long, 1.39 metres wide and is 1.52 metres tall - makes it agile and easy to park and ensures there's plenty of room to manoeuvre a wheelchair. Its height also makes it easier to climb into.
With a top speed of up of just over 25mph and a range of around 45 miles on a full charge, it is easy to handle and the vehicle has a turning circle of only 7.2 metres
It requires no special charger and recharging takes less than four hours to fully charge using a conventional 220-volt socket.
Its 5.5 kWh lithium-ion battery, housed flat under the floor, can be easily recharged via the on-board electric cable located in the passenger-side doorway.
The adaptation of Ami for All for disabled people is standardised and easy to install, whatever version of Ami the customer chooses. It was designed and built in conjunction with PIMAS, a leading company in the conversion of vehicles for persons with reduced mobility.
The design is based on a mechanical adaptation of the passenger compartment so that people with leg impairment can easily access the cabin and drive.
This involved reworking the accessibility of the driver's door, the on-board transfer aid, moving the accelerator and brake controls to hand level and adapting the interior space to accommodate a dismantled wheelchair.
Getting in and out is easy thanks to a wide door and its opposite opening on the driver's side which is rear-hinged. The angle of the door hinge has been increased to allow customers to place a wheelchair parallel to the threshold of the passenger compartment after opening the driver's door.
A removable, retractable shelf is then unfolded to allow the person to be transferred independently from the wheelchair into the passenger compartment.
Customers can move from the wheelchair to the driver's seat thanks to a strap fixed to the top of the interior door frame. The operation takes only a few minutes.
Once on board and ready to go, the driver has a knob on the steering wheel to make it easy to grip and benefit from the Ami for All's handling.
In place of the usual pedals for the 6kW electric motor, a mechanical lever has been added for manual control of the accelerator and brake pedal, which you simply pull or push. The pedals remain operational.
There are two ways of transporting the wheelchair. It can be placed in the passenger compartment, taking advantage of the large storage volume in front of the passenger in vehicle. The driver then removes the wheels from the wheelchair and secures them in the footwell using a specially designed strap.
The folded wheelchair fits on the passenger seat. It is secured by an additional and specific seatbelt. This configuration makes it possible to travel independently.
If a passenger is also present, the wheelchair can be placed in a dedicated space at the rear of Ami for All, thanks to an aluminium luggage rack.
The wheelchair has to be installed by the passenger and can then be covered by a protective tarpaulin.